Over 20 native tree species, including oak, wild service, birch, alder, hazel, blackthorn, rowan, and lime have been planted on site at South Park, Ilford. Located in the south of the borough, the Tiny Forest will provide an oasis for wildlife, connect people with nature in their local area, and help us understand and tackle some of the issues faced by urban settings. The Tiny Forest is funded by the Defra Green Recovery Challenge Fund.
The planting method used when creating a Tiny Forest encourages accelerated tree development, without the use of chemicals or fertilisers. Although the densely planted trees are packed into a space no bigger than the size of a tennis court, they will help to store carbon, reduce flooding, increase biodiversity, and improve air quality.
Vision RCL’s Nature Conservation Team will be working alongside Earthwatch and the South Park User Group to monitor the development of the South Park Tiny Forest site. Although planting was originally planned as a celebratory community event, due to the current lockdown restrictions the installation of the Tiny Forest has instead been undertaken by landscaping contractors. However, this has ensured that the tree specimens are able to start taking root and will be in place for the local communities to enjoy and help maintain once restrictions are lifted.
Over the coming years Earthwatch will collect data and assess the benefit of the South Park Tiny Forest. Alongside the help of the local community they will use this site to monitor carbon absorption, flood mitigation, thermal comfort, and biodiversity, as well as measure environmental and social benefits gained.
The South Park Tiny Forest will also be used as an education resource, connecting children and teachers from local schools with their surrounding green spaces. Earthwatch’s education team will deliver immersive workshops that allow children to learn first-hand about nature and the environment, and provide training and resources so that teachers can feel confident educating in these inspiring outdoor settings, breaking down the boundaries of typical classroom-based learning.
Louise Hartley, Tiny Forest Programme Manager at Earthwatch Europe, said:
“Tiny Forests provide rich opportunities for connecting young and old alike with the environment and sustainability. It’s vital that we give people the knowledge and skills to protect our natural world and inspire them to take positive action. We are delighted to be working with Vision Redbridge Culture & Leisure and Redbridge Council to bring these inspiring spaces to East London.”
Martin Solder, Chair of Vision Board of Trustees said:
“This is another excellent project which Vision is proud to support and deliver in partnership with Earthwatch Europe and Redbridge Council. Our parks are incredibly important to local people and we positively promote and support engagement with volunteers in the delivery of projects which promote the environment and sustainability.”
Cllr Jas Athwal, Leader of Redbridge Council commented:
“Creating a brand new forest in the heart of Seven Kings will make such a huge difference to the area, increasing biodiversity, improving air quality and creating a beautiful feature for local families to enjoy, now and for generations to come.
As a council we are committed to protecting and improving our local parks and green spaces and planting a new wildlife haven in the form of a Tiny Forest is one part of the wider work we are doing to keep Redbridge green.”